On April 22, 2011 (Mother Earth Day), hundreds of people marched down River Road in North Delta, BC, Canada (unceded Coast Salish Territories) and established the South Fraser Protection Camp -- to disrupt a freeway construction site that was destroying the banks of the Fraser River. It was one of the boldest acts of many years of resistance to the Gateway freeway expansion program, and this film is being released now, five years later, to honour all those involved in the struggle.
It's also being offered as a point of comparison for folks currently engaged in resistance against newer infrastructural atrocities in the area, such as the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion, the Massey Tunnel megabridge replacement, and Terminal 2 at Deltaport, as well as coal/LNG/jet fuel terminals in the Fraser Delta, etc.
This film is a DIY, anti-profit, anti-capitalist project. If you like it, please support your local grassroots land defender, or be one yourself. We're no pros but we made an effort to do this compelling tale justice by stitching together everything from news clips to random footage from crappy cameras. We covered a lot of ground but there is much, much more to know if you care to look, or ask. Freedom for the earth, fire for the freeways!
With singing and drumming by Kat Norris
Car culture and freeway expansion had spread like cancers throughout North America in the 1950s, but by the late 1960s, resistance in affected communities led to the phenomenon of "freeway revolts" in many cities.
A plan to bulldoze freeways through East Vancouver, BC was largely stalled by this rising tide of opposition, but not before the construction of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, which destroyed Hogan's Alley, Vancouver's only black neighbourhood. In the following years, protests and occupations successfully halted plans to widen Highway 99 in Stanley Park.
A generation later, in 2006, blockaders of the Sea-to-Sky Highway Expansion -- a megaproject tied to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games -- were arrested at Eagle Ridge Bluffs in West Vancouver. Those arrested included Ned Jacobs, son of author Jane Jacobs, who was greatly involved in the freeway resistance movements of the '60s and '70s. Ned was himself a veteran of the grassroots campaigns against freeway expansion in New York and Toronto, and remained active in freeway resistance in Vancouver in the years that followed.
Also among those kidnapped by the state at Eagle Ridge Bluffs was Indigenous elder Harriet Nahanee, who refused to acknowledge the authority of the courts to hold her captive. She was charged with contempt of court, and died of pneumonia contracted in jail, shortly after her release in 2007.
In response, multiple vehicles belonging to Kiewit corporation, the project's builders were firebombed. (See https://confrontation.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/anonymous-attack-on-kiewit-construction-truck/ + http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/4033 + https://confrontation.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/coast-salish-territories-vancouver-another-kiewit-truck-swallowed-by-fire/ )
An anti-colonial, anti-capitalist movement against the 2010 Olympics continued to gain momentum under the motto "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land".
By 2009, pre-construction had begun on the Gateway freeway expansion in Metro Vancouver, a $10 billion scheme whose most controversial projects were to widen the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1) and replace the Port Mann Bridge with the widest bridge in Canada, and also pave a new freeway dubbed the "South Fraser Perimeter Road" (also known as SFPR or Highway 17) along the banks of the Fraser River. Meanwhile, Translink had just completed the Golden Ears Bridge, a new freeway bridge across the Fraser between Langley and Pitt Meadows, disturbing Indigenous burial grounds.
The Port Mann/Highway 1 expansion would once again bring the freeway fight to East Vancouver's doorstep, and stimulate further car-oriented sprawl throughout the suburbs. The construction of the SFPR involved collusion between politicians and corporate interests in everything from flipping and industrializing real estate along the route, to making a total joke of an already worthless environmental review process. The SFPR would threaten the demolition of sacred Indigenous sites and hundreds of homes along the river, including historically and continually marginalized neighbourhoods such as Bridgeview in Surrey. It would also cause displacement of endangered animals and plants, not to mention pave the edges of Burns Bog, the largest urban wilderness in North America, sparking multiple lawsuits, and years of grassroots resistance in various forms.
“Glenrose Cannery” painting by Thom Giberson
“Gateway Sucks” artwork by Carmen Mills
“Stop the Greenwash of the Greed Olympics” artwork by Zig Zag
“SFPR Camp” painting by Nick Lakowski
WITH FOOTAGE BORROWED FROM
An abridged chronology of actions depicted (some appear slightly out of chronological order in the film or are only seen in the slide show at the end). With select links for credit/reference:
“Stop Gateway” rally in Delta (Mar 2007)
“Gateway Cancelled” billboard jamming action in Surrey (Dec 2008)
Protest at Prime Minister Harper's announcement of SFPR federal funding at Fraser Surrey Docks (Jan 2009)
“No Gateway Bailout!” protest at Macquarie Bank office (Port Mann/Hwy 1 financier bailed out by BC goverment) in Vancouver (Jan 2009)
One-week blockade of demolition of last house on SFPR alignment in Bridgeview (Feb 2009)
Farmers barricade BC Liberal MLA Mary Polak's office with tractors in Langley to resist overpass construction on farmland (Mar 2009)
“Resist the Corporate Greenwash!” Protest at Olympic sponsors meeting in Vancouver (Mar 2009) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN3qmnUtynY
Transportation Minister Falcon's office declared “Global Warming Crime Scene” in Surrey (Apr 2009)
Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels haunt BC Liberals in Tsawwassen (May 2009)
Farmer drives tractor to Transportation Minister Falcon's office to protest conversion of tree nursery into gravel quarry for SFPR in Surrey (May 2009)
Occupation of SPFR house demolition in North Delta (Jul 2009)
Occupation of Highway 1 construction site in Vancouver (Dec 2009)
“True Costs of the South Fraser Perimeter Road” grassroots townhall meeting in Ladner (Jan 2010)
Members of Katzie First Nation blockade Golden Ears Bridge as part of No 2010 Olympics Convergence*** (see note below) (Feb 2010)
“Take Back Our City” and “Heart Attack: Street March to Clog the Arteries of Capitalism” anti-Olympic actions in Vancouver (Feb 2010) https://archive.org/details/571mul470r-TheFiveCockringsDied923
“Farms Not Freeways” guerilla billboard unveiling in South Delta (Mar 2010)
“Climate Action Now” huge banner laid across vacant lots of SFPR demolished homes in North Delta (Apr 2010)
“We Are Not Amused” garden party/paint-in at SFPR construction site in North Delta (May 2010)
“Dig In! for Climate Justice” action against SFPR in Bridgeview (Oct 2010)
Sandbags filled at “Dig In” action used to barricade BC Cabinet offices in Vancouver (Dec 2010)
SFPR billboard paintbombed in Surrey (Feb 2011) http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/6358
“South Fraser Protection Camp” two-week occupation of SFPR construction site in North Delta (Apr-May 2011) http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/7187
SFPR machinery smashed in Delta (May 2011) http://feartosleep.blogspot.de/2011/06/south-fraser-freeway-machinery-smashed.html
“West Coast Port Shutdown” at Port of Vancouver, coordinated action with west coast Occupy movements in solidarity with ILWU workers in Longview (Dec 2011) http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/blog/relentless-rising/9378
“Rally and March to Save the Fraser Delta” in Ladner (Jun 2012)
“Occupy SFPR” action and banner drop from Patullo Bridge in Bridgeview (Jun 2012)
*** The following text is copied from the Youtube video “blockade golden ears bridge (short) feb 13 2010” which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMhBo1wonA0 (a short clip of which is included in this film)
The uploader (salmonsovereignty) posted this description under the video:
Building Bridges and Highways for greed!
February 13, 2010
Early this morning members of Katzie First Nations and supporters took part in blocking the Golden Ears Bridge for 10 minutes in protest of the creation of this unwanted infrastructure. Its purpose is to transport stolen resources from other sovereign native nations, to be shipped out throughout Asia, and ship in unnecessary sweatshop made merchandise for chain stores. This bridge has desecrated a traditional site that dates back over 3000 years, and negatively impacts our sacred food source, the salmon.
My people have been told when to fish and how big our net can be since our book of rules (Indian act) in 1896. My family has been arrested for fishing when they were not allowed.
The bridge affects my family in many ways. For thousands of years my family has been fishing on the Fraser River. The exact same spot where they built the Golden Ears Bridge is where my father, my grandfather and so on, is where we were taught to fish. The exact same spot we have been fishing is where there is a 6 lane bridge right in between Katzie 1 (Pitt meadows) and Katzie 2 (Langley).
That bridge has caused hurt and pain with me and my family.
The bridge is built on my peoples sacred burial grounds.
That bridge has destroyed the river far beyond Katzies boundaries
Because of the bridge Im forced to change my teachings and ways of fishing.
That bridge has destroyed the natural path for the salmon to continue up the river for indigenous people to eat to survive.
Dredging gravel out of the river to build bridges and highways for the Olympics is destroying the delicate ecosystem and putting declining fish stocks at further risk.
These people worked on the site where the bridge is now built - they asked to be anonymous because they would lose their jobs:
We dug up history of our ancestors - human remains, arrow heads and beads. They gave us a choice: either we dig up our peoples history or they were going to send non-native people to do it. We were forced and no options from our community!
~Anonymous hired archeologist worker.
After the remains were found, members of Katzie First Nations people were paid to build tiny coffins and bury the bones where they were found. Many of the workers thought this meant they wouldnt build the bridge at that spot.
So many bones were found, in fetal position, and scattered bones were found These are my people; these bones are my grandfathers and grandmothers. After we had a ceremony to bury the bones in small coffins we made, they went ahead and built the bridge anyway right over top of our sacred burial ground
~Anonymous Katzie First Nations worker.